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Korea seeks gradual fade-out of nuclear power: energy minister

South Korea's energy minister said Friday that the country is gradually pushing forward a zero nuclear policy that will extend into the next 60 years so as to meet the rising demand for safer and cleaner energy.

"It is the right time to transform our energy base into a safe and clean one," Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Paik Un-gyu said in a conference in Seoul. "There is a need to move away from the energy scheme of the past, which focused on promoting nuclear power plants."

The policymaker said the government will put priority on fostering future industries, such as renewable energy, and the decommissioning of nuclear plants.
Industry Minister Paik Un-gyu (Yonhap)
Industry Minister Paik Un-gyu (Yonhap)

The Moon Jae-in government is pushing forward with nuclear-free polices to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power plants, and expand the use of green energy production methods like solar and wind power.

Amid heated debate over the plan, one nuclear power plant, which was built in the late 1970s, was permanently shut down, with construction of two new nuclear facilities temporarily suspended.

The energy minister has said he is not in a hurry to complete the government's nuclear-free energy plan in the near future, stating that the latest atomic plant, the Shin-Hanul 2, will start commercial operation in 2019, with its operational life span set at 60 years. (Yonhap)